The Problem with the Mirror

Published: February 6, 2018

It’s impossible to see yourself accurately in a mirror. Self-assessment comes with an inherent bias. While most strength and personality tools are self-sorts, the best information comes from outside validation. Those who know you best usually have an angle you haven’t considered.

So, how’s your team doing? Intuitively, you probably have an adequate sense of the workplace culture, the degree of trust, and the readiness for growth and change. Perhaps this cursory evaluation gives you all the information you need keep the team moving forward. It would be helpful, however, to know what’s in your blind spot. If you had the opportunity to assess your team objectively, the data might reveal valuable opportunities.

Be clear about what to measure before you undertake a rigorous assessment of your team. It’s not about the ping-pong table or the beanbag chairs in the breakroom. Gather the metrics most likely to enhance the health and wellness of your team. Rate your strength and weakness in the following ten domains:

____ Are our day-to-day interactions productive, efficient, and true to our values?

____ Is our team mission clear and is everyone on-board?

____ Do teammates handle conflict and differences of opinion with maturity?

____ Do teammates connect and collaborate?

____ Is our workplace a trusting and respectful environment?

____ Do teammates hold themselves and each other accountable consistently?

____ Are we supported in sharing new ideas and perspectives?

____ Does the organization support exploration and discovery when solving problems?

____ Are there any unresolved issues keeping the team stuck?

____ How have we handled significant change recently?

Few teams are strong in every category. Building a healthy culture means developing your assets while chipping away at anything that subtracts from excellence. Most often, assessment data like this validates awareness. It removes the bias obscuring your look in the mirror. Now that you know how your team measures up, you can decide what to do about it.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.